House passes bill that allows increased water pollution
The House voted 63-37 to approve the legislation.
House Bill 2506 would change the type of stream flow measurements the state Department of Environmental Protection uses when it sets the amount of pollution that chemical plants, factories and other industrial facilities can routinely discharge into the state’s waterways.
Under the bill, being pushed by the West Virginia Manufacturers Association, DEP would switch from using a low-flow figure for streams to an average-flow figure, called “harmonic mean.” The change would not increase the state’s actual in-stream pollution limits, but would increase the discharges that chemical plants and other industrial sites are allowed under DEP-approved permits.
“If I believed it was going to harm the water quality of the state of West Virginia, I would be against it.
“So, the overall water quality of the body of water doesn’t change with this bill.” It’s correct that the bill doesn’t specifically change the state’s numeric water quality limits for in-stream pollution.
But by changing the flow measurements used for setting the pollution any particular facility can discharge, the legislation would increase the amount of pollution those facilities can discharge, critics of the bill noted.
“The water standards are not changed,” Lane said.
Neither DEP nor lawmakers have offered any detailed analysis of exactly how the bill would increase pollution allowed in the state’s rivers and streams, or how such increase might affect public health.
I believe we’re better than that.” Another opponent of the bill, Delegate Barbara Fleischauer, D-Monongalia, strongly disputed suggestions from some supporters that because the bill regulates routine pollution discharges and not one-time leaks like the one in January 2014 at Freedom Industries, the Kanawha Valley water crisis has nothing to do with the bill.
Fleischauer said the water crisis should have shown lawmakers why tough protections for drinking water sources are important.